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Choices and dreams

Life-1

What do you want out of life? Do you want respect? Do you want love, maybe a family or are material things more your speed?

We all have our dreams, some just seem more impossible than others. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on another “you can do whatever you set your mind to” style rant. ūüôā

Today, I’m thinking about choices and how they shape not just us, but our dreams as well. From the minute we wake up, until the moment we fall asleep, we’re making choices. What to eat for breakfast, what to wear, or even whether or not to get out of bed for the day. So many of our choices are automatic that most of us don’t even really think about them until we hit one that’s not so simple.

For instance, when I get up in the morning, I make a conscious effort to choose to be happy. It’s not that I wake up depressed everyday, I’m just taking a moment to remind myself that I don’t have to let whatever happens throughout my day bring me down. Before my day even starts, I choose to have a good one. Some days, that’s all it takes, but other days, I have to make that choice again, sometimes several times in one day. No, it doesn’t always work, but you’d be surprised by how often it does.

I am choosing to be happy, and in doing so, I’ve realized that I’m becoming a stronger person. I’m creating myself into the person I want to be. That is a very cool statement to be able to make. Too many people simply take what they are given and go along with it, never realizing that they have a choice. You can’t always choose the situations you land yourself in or the way things turn out, but in every situation, you do have a choice. You can choose how you react to it.

Here’s an example: you and your family (husband, wife, kids, who ever), have been planning to go on vacation for months. You finally get where you’re going and the very next day, you wake up in so much pain that you can’t get out of bed. This is where I lose most people, they immediately start in on me saying things like “you can’t just choose not to feel the pain”, or “there’s nothing you can do to make the situation better”. No, you can’t just choose not to feel the pain, I can’t argue with that, so I won’t; however, there are things that can be done to make the situation better! Time to start looking at your choices.

The first choice you have to make is: how do you react to being in pain?

A: Do you choose to be angry or depressed?

B: Do you choose to ignore the pain the best you can and carry on with your plans?

C: Do you choose to accept the fact that you’re in pain and move on?

If you choose A, you may as well go ahead and prepare to make your loved ones miserable with you. Being angry or upset is usually the default reaction for people, being in pain is miserable, especially when you know you can’t do anything about it. It’s understandable. The problem is, when you choose to be miserable, you’re choosing to let everyone around you be miserable as well. When you choose to be angry or upset, you close the door on any other options. Choosing option B might sound like the more selfless thing to do, and sometimes, (major stress on sometimes), it actually works. You ignore the pain, carry on with your plans and the pain gets forgotten. The problem is, that it¬†really doesn’t work very often, at least not for me. Whenever I’ve chosen option B, I nearly always end up in even more pain than I was in to begin with and then I get really grouchy. Chances are, in my attempts to ignore my pain, I didn’t tell anyone that I wasn’t¬†feeling well, so my mood changes¬†are¬†unexpected.¬†I start blaming my friends or family, who ever it was that “dragged” me out or made me feel guilty about not feeling well, and then I start picking fights. It becomes a game of “who can I drag down with me?”. It’s really not a pleasant way to spend your day.

By choosing to accept the fact that you’re in pain and move on, you open up new choices, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. In my case, since I don’t have kids to worry about just yet, it’s usually just myself and my husband when we go on vacation, so I’ll start with that example. When I choose option C, the first thing I have to do is be honest. I have to say “honey, I’m in a lot of pain this morning, I’m not going to be able to go to the beach”. Yes, he’ll be disappointed, but I’ve just avoided what could have been a truly miserable day for the both of us. It also opens up new options: what do we do instead?

Let’s say that we choose to spend the morning enjoying breakfast in bed, enjoy some conversation, or maybe we just watch a movie together. It’s entirely possible that by the afternoon, I might feel well enough to go¬†and actually enjoy¬†some time at the beach after all. If, however, that’s not the case, I can choose to not guilt my husband into staying bedridden with me. He’s certainly capable of enjoying some sunshine and relaxation at the beach on his own. The hard part is choosing not to feel jealous about him having a good time while I’m stuck in pain.

From my own experience, option C is the best option, not only because it keeps the overall misery level down, but also because by listening to my body and taking it easy when it tells me to, I’m much more likely to be able to enjoy the next day. If I drag myself out and ignore the messages, I’m going to keep paying it for it day after day until I’m an emotional wreck. No one wants to be stuck¬†with that!

It took me a long time to realize that it takes more courage to admit that you need help than it does to hide it. Every time I choose to face my pain and admit that I can’t keep up with everyone else, I become stronger. My choices are responsible for how the world sees me, but more importantly, they impact how the people I love see me. I don’t want them to see me as weak and miserable; I want them to see me as strong and confident. I don’t want my friends stay by me because they’ll feel guilty for abandoning me, I want them to want to be around me because they enjoy my company and respect me as a person.

I know those may seem like awfully small things to call “dreams”, but I’m¬†choosing to¬†start small. Right now, I need stepping-stones to help keep me on track for all of my really big dreams.¬†I can finally see the person I want to¬†become, I just have to choose to create her.

Love this quote

“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self,
to live out your purpose, and to do it fearlessly.‚ÄĚ
– Steve Maraboli

It’s a diet, not torture!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my weight loss plan, so rather than try to respond to each of them individually, I thought it would be easier to answer them all at once :).

I’ve been using the My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my daily calorie count. The app is amazingly easy to use, you can use a bar code scanner to enter foods and the app keeps track of everything for you. You enter in your height and weight, then the app calculates your daily calorie goal based on how much you want to lose and how quickly.

The hard part is watching what I eat. It’s true that I have given up some things, but I don’t feel like I’m starving all the time or that I can’t treat myself every now and then. If I know that I’m going to go out to eat, I try to make room in my calorie budget ahead of time, this way, I can enjoy my meal without feeling guilty about breaking my diet. I am proud to say that I’ve successfully managed to stay at or under my calorie goal for the last 50 days!

I have had to cut back on sweets, which is tough, since I’m a serious chocoholic, but I adore dark chocolate and it doesn’t take much of it to cure a craving. Other than that, I haven’t really given up anything major. I’ve been studying several different light/healthy cookbooks and amazingly, they’re not all full of bizarre ingredients. The Hungry Girl books by Lisa Lillien are amazing! Some of the recipes are a bit odd, but she offers a ton of advice on healthy and low calorie substitutions that help to make a serious dent in the calorie counts for many meals. I even managed to make a super yummy shepherd’s pie that came out to have only 290 calories in a very generous serving. The other book I like is The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook; it’s hard to fault a cookbook that offers a healthy version of a meatball sub, without using some weird meat substitute!

Healthy eating isn’t all salads and tofu and you certainly don’t have to starve. It does help to increase the amount of fiber and protein in your diet, but you don’t have to eat a bunch of things you don’t like. I have to say, I’m really enjoying the challenge of re-learning how to cook. I’m still able to make (and eat!) the things I love, and I love that they’re healthier for me to enjoy.

As proof, here’s a look at a typical day’s menu:

Breakfast:

2/3 cup Special K Oats & Honey 100 calories

1/4 cup Craisins 130 calories

Cup of tea, sweetened with Splenda and 2 tsp Benefiber 15 calories
__________
Lunch:

Ham Sandwich (Sandwich Rounds, 2 oz deli ham, lettuce) 170 calories

1/2 cup cottage cheese 90 calories

Celery Sticks 18 calories
__________
Dinner:

Grilled Chicken Parmesan 307 calories

2 ounces spaghetti noodles 180 calories
__________
Snacks:

Yoplait Light Yogurt 90 calories

This day came to a total of 1100 calories and since my daily budget is 1430, I came in 330 calories under my allowance, without exercising at all! Even if I’m having a bad day and can’t exercise, I can still work towards my goal weight. Obviously, exercise helps tremendously with weight loss and it does give me some wiggle room in my diet if I absolutely cannot resist those chocolate chip cookies, but it’s not something that has to be done every single day.

I know that exercise is pretty much a “bad” word for most of us with fibromyalgia, so for those of you who would like to lose some weight and are unable to get much exercise there is still hope.

It pays to keep trying

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For the record, I’m psyched. ūüôā

Today is one of those awesome days that makes all the hard work and not so awesome days totally worth it. I met one of the goals I set for myself as part of my plan, and accomplishing it reminded me that as long as I keep trying, things will get better. It doesn’t matter what kind of goals you’ve got for yourself; health, love, family, financial… as long as you keep trying, you’ll keep getting closer, and eventually you will succeed.

One of the goals I set for myself as part of my plan was to complete a 5k in under an hour. I don’t know if someone spiked my morning cup of tea or something, but I when I went out for my walk this afternoon, I decided on a whim to go for 5k. I usually set a timer for 30 minutes and get as much distance as I can in that time frame, which is usually about 2 miles or so. I managed to do the full 5k in just over¬†50 minutes! That’s not even at a jogging pace, I managed that with a brisk walk.

The event I plan to participate in isn’t until the¬†end of¬†October, so I still have four full months to try to work up to jogging at least part of it. I’m learning that goals are an incredibly important factor when it comes to keeping my plan on track. If I set them too low, I don’t get any sense of accomplishment when I reach them, but if they’re too high, I get discouraged and am more likely to give up. So, I think that my new goal will be to complete the 5k in October in 40 minutes or less, but my interim goal is to do it in 45. I may end up changing those numbers around a bit, since I really don’t know at this point if my body will cooperate. I’ve tried a program that alternates jogging and walking over a 30 minute period, but to be honest, that’s a bit of a struggle for me right now.

I think the best thing to do is to add a 5k walk to my work out once a week and keep a close eye on my pace during my regular 30 minute walks. If I can continue to lose weight, I think that will help me as well. My body won’t have as much to carry and won’t have to work as hard to keep going. The real test will be to see how I feel tomorrow…

More things never to say to some one who has fibromyalgia

Seriously people, what’s with all the negativity? I feel like I’m swimming in it lately. There are just too many people around me who seem to be waiting for me to fall flat on my face. I keep hearing things about what I can/can’t do, or what I can expect out of life. The ridiculous thing is, they don’t even have fibromyalgia; they have a “basic understanding” from what they’ve read on the net or have heard from other people who don’t have the disease either.

With that in mind, I’ve got a few more things to add to the list of things to never say to someone battling the invisible menace.

  • “I know someone who has that, their life is miserable!” OR “I know someone who has that, but it’s nothing like what you’re describing.”

    Rule #1 about fibromyalgia: it’s different for every single person that has it. That’s why it’s so hard to diagnose and treat. No two cases are the same, they may have similarities, but you cannot compare them. Just because things went one way for one person does not mean they will be that way for anyone else. Part of the reason things are so different from case to case is simply due to the way people react to having it. True, at some point most of us go from being angry to being devastated (or vice versa) and then eventually we accept that we have to live with it. How you decide to live with it is entirely up to you, and will undoubtedly have some impact on how the disease affects you.
  • “It’s only going to get worse as you age.”

    REALLY?! Think about it for a second, does anything health wise actually improve as you age? Unless you’re Benjamin Button, EVERYTHING gets worse as you age. Your metabolism slows down, your joints wear out, your memory starts growing holes in it, your hair falls out and you get all wrinkly. Sure, old age probably isn’t going to help the fibromyalgia any, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that it might be worse in your sixties than it was in your twenties. The upside is, there is research being done and eventually, they will come up with something that helps.
  • “You can’t possibly expect to have a ‘normal’ life with this disease.”

    Actually, yes I can. Not only do I firmly believe that a person can do anything they put their mind to, my belief in myself is unshakeable. I know myself well enough at this point to be able to say with 100% certainty that if I want to do something, I will. True, having fibro adds about 50 pounds to the weight of the baggage I’m lugging around, but it only makes me that much stronger. I’m not saying that I can wish the disease away, or that if I ignore it, it doesn’t exist. Short of some miracle cure, I will always have fibromyalgia. I know that. However, I also know that I am creative enough and flexible enough to find a way to do anything I want to. That’s just me personally, I’m certainly not saying that everyone who has fibro is going to be able to do the same, but I think many people would be surprised if they tried. One major thing to keep in mind is that the goals I have for myself are realistic. When I say I can “do anything I want to” I’m not implying that I could be an astronaut or that I want to climb Mt. Everest.
  • “What happens if your plan stops working and you start feeling bad again?”

    Eventually, my body will get used to the endorphins from exercising, and losing weight will only help so much. I’m sure that at some point, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board for a new way to fight the pain. I started this experiment with the diet and exercise with no real expectations of success. I know now that it is possible to alleviate the pain. I’ve also learned that the way I react to the pain is the most important factor in how the fibro affects my life. I can’t always stop the pain, but there’s no rule that says I have to be miserable about it. Ok, so I have to spend a day or two or three in bed; as soon as I’m able, I’ll get back up. In the meantime, I can read a good book, watch a new movie, write a new blog post… Yes, it sucks to be forced by your own body to stay in bed all day, but there are worse fates. I’ll take my victories where I can get them, as long as I wake up, I win.
  • “Oh, you’re just in an ‘up’ phase right now, you’ll have a ‘down’ swing eventually. You won’t be able to fight it forever.”

    Want to bet? I didn’t call this blog “Fighting Fibro with Fire” just because I thought it sounded good. I am determined to fight this until the day I die. I know that there will be setbacks, and I know that I will have bad days, but as long as I breathe, there is always tomorrow. I have been in the dark, I have seen what rock bottom looks like and it terrified me. Mark my words: I will not ever go back there again. I found the strength to pull myself back from the edge of the abyss and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am strong enough to keep myself from going back.

Part of me feels that these lists shouldn’t be necessary, that not saying these things to people with chronic illnesses should be common sense. Obviously, that’s not true, seeing as the only reason I am able to compile these lists is because people have said them to me. Initially, when I started writing this post, I was angry and ready to tell the people who said these things to “go to Hell”; after typing all of this up, I find that the anger has dissipated and all I feel now is determined. I am determined to prove these statements wrong and I am certain of my success. All I want to say now is, “hit me with your best shot”.

Something to strive for

Something to strive for

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THE Plan, update #2

inspirational-quotes-adjust-your-sails

I love this quote, because it describes exactly what it is that I am working towards. I know that there are many obstacles in my life that I simply cannot change, so instead, I’m working to change how I get around them. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes it takes a tremendous amount of effort to react to situations the I want to rather than the way I’m used to reacting to them. Some habits are hard to break, but they can be broken.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the plan I came up with to help me deal with being chronically ill. Just to recap, here’s a brief overview of my actual plan:

  • Get Happy: This is kind of a mind over matter approach, I’m learning to change the way I react to situations. I’m learning to control my temper and to always look at the brighter side of things. I’m seeing a therapist, who’s helping me learn to deal with stress and the depression that comes with fibromyalgia.
  • Get Healthy: I’m using a combination of diet and exercise to improve my overall health. My goal is to lose a total of 45 pounds.

It’s that simple.

I’ve been working on these things for just over six weeks now, and while I’m nowhere near saying “I’m done!”, I am making tangible progress. I’ve been counting my calories religiously and have actually managed to stay at or under my daily calorie budget every day for the last 45 days. I’ve also been able to stick to a low impact exercise plan. I’m not able to exercise every single day, but I do average about 4 times a week.

I’ve now lost a total of 14 pounds. ūüôā

One of the other benefits that I’ve noticed since I’ve been exercising regularly is my mood. My depressive episodes have decreased dramatically and it’s getting¬†easier for me ¬†to keep control of my temper. I’m not having crazy mood swings either.¬†Yesterday, I noticed that I was actually completely content for no apparent reason. Today, I’m still inexplicably happy.¬†For me, that’s a pretty¬†big deal.

My pain levels are down, but the pain isn’t completely gone. Prior to starting my new routine, my average pain level was an 8 out of 10. Now, it’s about a 4-5. I still have the¬†debilitating flare ups, but they don’t seem to last quite as long. Last night, for instance, my right hand/arm got so bad that I literally couldn’t use it; we’re talking an 11 out of 10. I’ve had many, many instances like this before, but thankfully, they have become less frequent.

The fibro fog is still a major issue; I’m having difficulty concentrating on conversations, I forget what I’m doing in the middle of tasks, words get jumbled when I speak… yeah. The fog is pretty frustrating, but given the choice, I’ll take the fog over the pain any day.

I really can’t complain, life is good. The best part is, I know that as long as I keep fighting, things will only get better.

What a great day!

As part of getting myself back out into the world, I’ve been babysitting once a week or so for a friend. She has a lovely 12 month old little boy, who for privacy purposes, I’m going call “Alex”.

Alex is extremely active and has just recently learned to walk; which is a lot of fun, but also something of a challenge. I enjoy my time with him immensely. ūüôā Alex gives the best hugs, ever. Seriously, this little guy can turn even the most depressing day upside down with nothing but a hug, but his brilliant little grin helps too.

Today, I learned that he even makes my exercise routine fun. I took him in the stroller for a 30 minute walk. We talked about birdies, butterflies, cars… Ok, I talked, he made happily little gurgles and giggles. Still, it was a lot more fun than walking with just music to listen to. It’s amazing how fast 30 minutes goes by when you’re enjoying yourself!

When I got done watching Alex, I went home and laid out in the backyard for some sun. The only thing missing was a drink with an umbrella in it.

Pain levels are way down and even the fog is manageable today. On top of that, I’ve lost another two pounds, which puts me at 14 total. What a fabulous day!

Wow.

This morning, I woke up to find an alert on my phone, letting me know that I had a comment awaiting moderation. I always love that; it brightens my day every time I get a notification about someone following, liking or especially commenting on my writing. This comment, however was special. FibroFaery had written to let me know that she’d nominated me for an award. I’m speechless. I’m trying to come up with words to express how touched I am to have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you FibroFaery for the nomination! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, I highly recommend doing so!

I’ve only been blogging for a month now, and quite honestly, to even have one or two readers who are not people I know in the flesh is amazing. To have 115 fabulous followers and to be nominated for an award is simply astounding, again, thank you!

As a nominee, I have to nominate 15 other blogs for the award. I don’t have the full 15 yet, as I’m fairly new to the community, but I will update the list as I come across new ones!¬†¬†Without further ado, here they are!

Like I said, I know this list isn’t complete, but I haven’t had a chance to really start exploring other blogs just yet.

Finally, here’s my list of 7 things about me. Hopefully, this will help you get to know me a bit better, beyond the fibro!

 

7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

  1. I love giraffes. Not just like, but seriously, LOVE giraffes. They are by far my absolute favorite animal. One of my favorite things in the world to do is to go to a zoo that allows you to feed them.
    giraffe love
  2. My favorite color is red.
  3. I am an arts and crafts junkie. Depending on how I’m feeling any given day, I crochet, draw, paint, dabble in jewelry making, scrapbook… The list goes on and on.
  4. Even though I rarely feel up to it anymore, I love working in my flower beds. At one point, I was working on “growing a rainbow” using different shades of day lilies.lily
  5. I love to cook!
  6. All of my pets (from about the age of 15 and up, at least) have had human names. Andrew, Sammy, Riley, Octavius… They seem to get grander the older I get.
  7. I love my life. I love that I have finally found my voice and the knowledge that it’s being heard makes it all the more awesome. I love that I actually have some ability to help others, even in my “disabled” state. I’ve had some rough times, and I’m sure there are more to come, but that just makes the joy in my life all the sweeter.

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